Monday, 26 July 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #563: UK DK OR OK?

Welcome to the show folks...

The relatively new Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition that's running the show in the British Parliament has ordered the scrapping of the UK Film Council. For those who the UK Film Council doled out taxpayer dollars to British filmmakers to promote British film-making.

Now such an entity is a double edged sword, which is why I must admit that I'm a twee bit ambivalent about this news.

Allow me to explain:

In theory, a taxpayer, non-profit type organization like the UK Film Council, or its Canadian cousin Telefilm Canada, is supposed to finance and promote the making of films that are free from the shackles of mainstream corporate considerations like profit, loss, and risk. They are supposed to foster and promote new talent, open doors, and develop an entertainment industry independent of Hollywood corporate interference.

In theory.

In theory, communism works.

Reality is often a different story.

Instead of opening doors and fostering new talent, most government film finance agencies tend to become even more closed than the Hollywood studio system. The studio system is always looking for novelty, new faces, and the 'next big thing,' because they have to be. The studios may be really lazy and bad at doing it, but they at least stumble around attempting it nonetheless.

Where talent and looks might get you noticed in Hollywood, they won't get you noticed in a government subsidized system unless you are in someway already juiced into that system. That means that you need someone in the system, either a political, familial, or professional connection to grandfather you in. If you don't have someone like that to open the doors for you, you are out, and will never, ever, get in.

Now since these organizations are free from considerations of profit, loss, and risk, they are also free from considering other factors like distribution, marketing, and above all the general audience.

The word "entertainment" in such circles becomes synonymous with "shit," and a whole new paradigm is established. Entertainment is eschewed, in its place is importance. Importance means that it has to tackle taboos (but in the least titillating manner possible), make political-social statements, and win awards at film festivals because those are the only places where they're going to play before they become a ratings black hole on the late night schedule of the country's public broadcaster.

On the political front such taxpayer supported bodies also become incredibly lopsided, favoring one party or ideology over another. I'll bet dollars to donuts that you are not going to find many dyed in the wool Tories in the management of the UK Film Council either. Which while they may complain about the group's shuttering, they must understand that if you live by the whims of the ruling party, you also face the risk of dying by the whims of the ruling party.

In conclusion, these groups do succeed in creating a film scene that's independent of Hollywood. But that scene is not an industry, and it's usually totally dependent on the government and its favors. Any industry that manages to survive on their own usually do by making some sort of accommodation with Hollywood instead of standing completely against it.

So you can see what I'm getting at. I like the idea of an organization like the UK Film Council, or Telefilm Canada, but I'm all too aware of the traps that are inherent in such an organization.

Now it's your turn to tell me what you think about this news in the comments.


  1. Even the theory sucks. When you accept taxpayer money, even idiot pols will tell you that those paying the bill should get their money's worth, but how does that happen? To satisfy the taxpayers, you have to

    1. Produce bland drek similar to TV in the 50s that doesn't piss off anyone.


    2. Lie and hope the news media will cover for you and hide the fact that a majority of taxpayers would be pissed as hell that their money is being used to produce propaganda to undermine their way of life.

    Of course, the default option is always number 2.

  2. je pressman28/7/10 4:27 am

    Organizations like the UK Film Council automatically assume that without their collective intelligence and sparkling taste in film, dolts ,(I shall use myself as an example) like moi would be drawn to action films populated with talking animals. Actually there is such a film due out,something called Cats and Dogs, the Revenge of Kitty Galore. What the film council wants me to see is a documentary on union organizers in the hoisery industry.Three fun filled hours tracing the history, the angst, the triumph of hoisery workers worldwide.In such a situation the talking animals will win the day.The lesson learned is: does anyone really like those UK Film Council ,elitist movie missionaries output?